Cannelloni are a typical dish of Italian cuisine. Let's see how to cook them with the original recipe. 

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How to cook cannelloni: a delicious Italian dish. This type of pasta represents a triumph of flavors and tradition. Cannelloni are native to Italian cuisine, these stuffed dough cylinders are appreciated all over the world. In this article, we will explore the origins of the recipe, the main ingredients and the preparation process. In addition, we will immerse ourselves in some variations that enrich this culinary delicacy.

How to cook cannelloni: the origins

Cannelloni origins

The origin of cannelloni dates back to ancient Rome, where pasta was already an integral part of the daily diet. However, the modern version of cannelloni has its roots in medieval Tuscan cuisine. The term "cannellone" comes from "canna" (tube), referring to the cylindrical shape of the plate.

The recipe, then, has traveled through the centuries and has come to this day. Having such an ancient origin it is easy to imagine that it has had numerous variations, including the one with ragù, originally from Emilia Romagna (which we will explore later). For the moment, we will focus on the most ancient recipe.

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The ingredients

The cannelloni ingredients

But let’s take it one step at a time and start to see what are the main ingredients that can not miss in your kitchen if you want to delight your guests with a great dish of cannelloni!

The base of cannelloni is represented by pasta, traditionally homemade or bought fresh. The classic filling includes a combination of minced meat (usually beef), ricotta, eggs, parmesan cheese, and a generous amount of spinach.

In detail, here’s what you need, with quantities for eight cannelloni:

Flour 00 100 g

Medium eggs 1


Whole milk 300 g

Butter 20 g

Flour 00 20 g

Grated nutmeg q.b.

Salt up to 1 pinch


Sausage 200 g

Minced beef 300 g

Parmigiano Reggiano PDO to grate 100 g

Extra virgin olive oil q.b.

Onions 80 g

Celery 60 g

Carrots 80 g

Red wine 50 g

Salt up to 1 pinch

Black pepper 1 pinch

Tomato sauce 300 g

For sprinkling:

Parmigiano Reggiano PDO to grate 15 g.

The sauce, essential to complete the dish, ranges from bechamel sauce to tomato sauce, or a combination of both.

How to cook cannelloni: the procedure

Cooking Cannelloni

After showing you the ingredients here’s how to prepare cannelloni step by step. We decided to divide the steps of the recipe by points, distinguishing the various preparations.

Preparation of the tomato sauce:

Heat a little olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
Add the peeled whole garlic cloves and let them brown slightly.
Pour the tomato puree into the pot and cook over low heat for about 20-30 minutes, adjusting salt and pepper to your taste. When the sauce is ready, remove the garlic cloves and set aside.

Preparation of the filling:

Wash the fresh spinach and scald in boiling water for a few minutes, then drain and squeeze well.
Chop the spinach finely and place in a bowl.
Add the ricotta, grated Parmesan cheese, egg, a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix well until smooth.

Preparation of the cannelloni:

Take the fresh pasta for cannelloni and cook it in boiling salted water following the instructions on the package, but be careful not to cook it completely. It must still be al dente. Drain the pasta and let it cool on a clean cloth lying on a work surface.


Take a sheet of cannelloni dough and put some spinach and ricotta filling on one end.
Add some mozzarella cubes.
Gently roll the dough to form the cannellone and place it in a baking tray lightly greased with a little olive oil.
Repeat the process with the rest of the ingredients until the pan is full.


Pour the prepared tomato sauce over the cannelloni, making sure to cover them evenly.
Sprinkle some grated Parmesan on the surface of the cannelloni.
Cover the pan with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 180 ºC for about 25-30 minutes.
Remove the foil and cook for another 10 minutes, until the cannelloni are golden on the surface and the cheese is melted.


Once ready, turn out the cannelloni and let them rest for a few minutes before serving.
Serve cannelloni hot and garnish with some fresh basil leaves if desired.

We suggest you store cannelloni in the refrigerator, closed in an airtight container, for 1-2 days at most. If you have used all fresh ingredients you can freeze them.


The word goes to Janine Bruno, Italian-American food creator for her @homemadebybruno and Italian culinary experiences curator. 

Cannelloni with ragù is  a traditional dish from Emilia Romagna and I love them! I personally grew up eating Manicotti which is the more Italian-American version of this dish however they are made completely different! This is the kind of meal that would definitely be classified as "a labor of love" with its many steps; however, it is still an easy process! Those are my tips to make it perfect.

1. Make the sauce ahead of time- if you make your ragù the day before- it will save you so much time. When you mix the parmigiano with the ragu for the cannelloni filling, you want that to be chilled so it works out perfectly. 

2. Boil your pasta sheets one by one - they will be rolled out thin so they are delicate. You can run them under cold water to stop them from cooking. 

3. Be sure to vigorously stir your besciamella! This will avoid clumps and make it the perfect consistency. Using nutmeg is going to add wonderful flavor. 

4. Freshly grate parmigiano on top of your cannelloni before baking. Turning the heat to broil at the last 5 mins is going to give you a nice crispy top.


You can also use this recipe with variants. We summarize them in this section.

You can cook cannelloni fish. Simply replace the meat with a mixture of fish, such as salmon or shrimp, for a marine touch.

One of the most popular variants is definitely the ragù version. Tasty and unmissable on Italian tables. The recipe includes the inclusion of minced pork and less béchamel sauce. But you can also opt for a meat mix, with the addition of sausage or bacon. 

If you prefer the vegan version, no problem! Here are the vegetarian cannelloni: remove the meat and create a delicious filling with ricotta, spinach and mushrooms.

One of the most fashionable products nowadays you know, is pesto. And how could it be missing in this recipe. Are you a pesto lover? Then enjoy cannelloni with pesto sauce: add a touch of freshness to the dish with a pesto sauce. 

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